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Kolkata From the Top of a Double-Decker Bus

Kolkata From the Top of a Double-Decker Bus
The double decker bus has an open-air upper deck, Photo Credit: Uttara Gangopadhyay
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The bus tour can be a newcomer’s first introduction to the architectural landmarks of Kolkata as well as a fun and educative family trip

Uttara Gangopadhyay
December 20 , 2021
03 Min Read

If Kolkata is on your holiday itinerary this winter, then do include an afternoon trip on the open-deck double-decker bus organised every weekend by West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDCL). The ticket price has been reduced, which makes it cost-friendly for families and groups.

The trip starts at 2pm and concludes by 5.30pm. The 3.30 hour trip costs Rs 499 per head in the closed lower deck and Rs 649 on the open-air upper deck. Costs also include the service of a guide, entrance charges for domestic tourists, and light refreshments.

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Starting from the Tourism Centre (West Bengal Tourism’s reservation office) in Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bag (BBD Bag; Dalhousie Square), the bus drives through the central business district of the city, which is dotted with colonial and post-colonial structures. The colonial era edifices display various styles inspired by European architecture.

A bird's eye view of the city from the upper deck

Usually, the tour begins with a drive past the Lalit Great Eastern Hotel (built in 1840 and said to be the longest operating luxury hotel in Asia), the Raj Bhavan (Governor House; built in 1799-1803 it is designed on the lines of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, UK), Curzon Park, Red Road crossing and Akash Bani Bhavan (All India Radio building) to reach St Johns Church.

After a short break at this old church built in 1787  and designed upon London’s St Martin’s Church, the bus proceeds to drive past the Currency Building (built in 1833, this Italian style building has a storied past, starting as the Agra Bank, housing the currency department since 1866, and now restored as a heritage building under the central ASI), the General Post Office (built in 1864), the Writer’s Building (built in 1877 as an office for the junior clerks – writers – of the East India Company, it later became the headquarters of the state administration; now it is under restoration) – do not miss the statues which adorn the exterior, past the lungs of Kolkata – the Maidan, Fort William, Babu Ghat (allowing to catch a glimpse of the bank of the Hooghly River), to stop at the famous Eden Gardens.

Take a walk inside the original park laid down in 1841 and named after the sisters, Emily and Fanny Eden; a popular attraction is the wooden Burmese Pagoda shipped from Prome in Myanmar (formerly Burma) to Kolkata by Lord Dalhousie in 1853. The famous cricket stadium, originally built in 1834, is adjacent to the park. The bus then drives past the Calcutta High Court (modeled after the Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium, to take you to the grand Princep Ghat (with its Palladian porch; built in 1843).

The last stop is at the city’s popular landmark, the Victoria Memorial. You have to hurry up if you want to have a peek at the museum inside or just take a breather in the landscaped garden. You may also decide to conclude your trip here or board the bus to be dropped off at the Tourism Centre.

The Information

Tickets can be bought online. Reporting time is 1.30pm. Those booking seats in the lower deck can go to the upper deck when the bus stops at the designated points. The lower deck is most suited for the elderly who have problems climbing stairs, families with very small children, and passengers with disabilities. Passengers on the upper deck must be careful of hanging branches of trees when the bus is moving. It is advisable to carry some sun-protective cream, a cap and drinking water. Since the bus travels through one of the busiest sections of the city, deviations from the usual itinerary cannot be ruled out.


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